Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Hyperlexia in Toddlerhood: It All Started with Letters...

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A personal reflection on hyperlexia in toddlerhood and how it all started with letters.

It was a set of thick plastic Sesame Street letters that my mother-in-law found at a garage sale that really led me to discovering my son's hyperlexic traits and love for letters. 

I mean I already knew he kind of liked letters at this point, but it was this particular set of alphabet toys that really cemented his love for letters.

They were bright and colorful, with slight texturing on them. And they featured a sticker of a Sesame Street character on each one (you can see them in the image below). Stickers that my son never really paid any attention to, I might add.

These chunky letters could stand up on their own and were fairly large. Especially when grasped in his tiny toddler hands. The number ones were even bigger and equally as loved.

Colorful plastic letters laying on the floor with a text overlay that says, "Hyperlexia in Toddlerhood: It All Started With Letters..."

But there's one particular day that stands out to me. Dressed in green camouflage pajamas and with a big curl of hair on the back of his head, he'd pick one of these letters up, hold it high into the air, and, with the biggest grin on his face (and with dimples on full display!), say the letter name. 

His H sounded more like the French pronunciation. 

His R like a pirate enthusiastically declaring, "Arr!" 

And his W sounded like "dubba dubba." 

Oh how I miss his tiny squeaky toddler voice saying these letter names...

Sometimes he'd hand the letter to me, while I laid quite pregnant on the couch, or he'd waddle over to the fireplace and temporary place them upright on the ledge that was, conveniently, the perfect height table for him. 

Then he'd scoop that letter back up, waddle back to the pile of letters laying on the floor, and squat down to swap it for a new one. 

Just like the previous letter, he'd hold the newly selected one high into the air, much like Mufasa held up Simba in the Lion King, and say its name.

We'd repeat this game day in and day out for quite some time, having absolutely no idea that a few short months later he'd spell words and start reading on his own. A big surprise to us all, obviously.

Perhaps like me, you noticed your hyperlexic child's intense fascination with letters in a similar fashion. After all, their letter fascination is one of the first signs of hyperlexia that many parents notice.

And perhaps like me, you're still holding on to that original set of alphabet toys many years later. It's only 11-ish years later, but hey who's counting...

I just can't bring myself to part with them. They simply hold too many happy memories for me.

Besides, I can't part with them because, unfortunately, letter L went missing years ago...

And you and I both know how well that goes over with hyperlexic kids.

Colorful plastic letters laying on the floor with a text overlay that says, "Hyperlexia in Toddlerhood: It All Started With Letters..."